3 May 2023

There were sports clubs galore, activities, demonstrations, food tents and even a ‘Quenchinator’ at the YMCA Fun Run and Sports Festival on Bank Holiday Sunday. And the sun came out to welcome the 700 runners who signed up to take part in the 5- and 1-mile races throughout the day.

In a triumph of youth over experience, Reigate Priory Athletics Club member, 16-year-old Samuel Stapley breezed home to win the Adult’s 5-mile race in an impressive time of 30 minutes and 18 seconds, having taken the undulating route in his stride. Samuel is due to begin his GCSE’s at Reigate School in two weeks’ time and this was his first YMCA Fun Run outing since taking part as a young child.

After the race, Samuel said:

“It felt great running alongside the experienced runners for most of the race and definitely helped me to keep a consistent pace throughout.”

Eloise Bull, also running for Reigate Priory Athletics Club, was the first lady to cross the line in 32 minutes and 51 seconds. Ian Burks, YMCA East Surrey’s CEO, completed the course in 36 minutes and 09 seconds, just one week after running the London Marathon.

The race was started by the Deputy Mayor for Reigate and Banstead, Cllr Rosemary Absalom.

With another notable first, second and third place going to Reigate Priory Athletics Club in the boy’s Under 16’s 1-mile, Euan Willis was the winner, followed home by Peter Littlemore and Joshua Emmerson. Katie Foss, with a time of 6 minutes and 46 seconds, kept up her YMCA Fun Run winning streak to take first place for the girls.

In the Under 12’s race, Joshua Webster was first home for the boys, with Reigate Parish pupil, Gracie Shade, the fastest girl to finish. Ten-year-old Theo Snelling stole the crowd’s hearts, crossing the line in 28 minutes and 14 seconds to huge cheers.

Theo has cerebral palsy and has attended YMCA East Surrey’s Yippee short breaks scheme for children with disabilities and complex needs for the past five years.

His mum, Laura, says:

“Theo is always keen to take part in the activities that support Yippee and the YMCA. We couldn’t make last year’s Fun Run as he was about to undergo surgery on his legs so when he was offered the chance to take part this year as part of Team Yippee, he very excitedly told me yes! Hearing the crowd cheer him on made me very emotional and seeing his pride as he crossed the line took my breath away.”

“Theo always has lots of fun at Yippee and it helps with his independence to have that time away from his parents! We’ve also been lucky enough to attend disability sports clubs too which have opened our eyes to what’s available for disabled people in the area, thanks to the efforts of YMCA East Surrey.”

In the Under 10’s race, winner Ted Hards, 9, was delighted to improve on his previous best of second place in a speedy 7 minutes and 2 seconds. Olive Barton was the fastest girl.

First over the line for the boys in the Under 8’s race, was Elliot Mason, with Earlswood School pupil, Florence Julianna Keast, winning for the girls. Olivia Mason beat everyone home to secure her trophy in the Under 6’s race, edging out Seb Treacy who finished just one second behind.

The YMCA Fun Run, sponsored by Brewers, the UK’s largest independent decorator’s merchant, was held in conjunction with Reigate and Banstead’s Sports Festival. SES Water provided the popular Quenchinator – a giant tank of fresh water, supplying drinks for all without the need for hundreds of single-use plastic bottles.

Funds raised from the event will go towards the charity’s ‘Y-Bus Appeal’, which aims to purchase a mobile youth club on wheels to reach young people in areas where there is little or no youth provision.

“We couldn’t hold the YMCA Fun Run without the support of our fabulous staff, volunteers, councillors, sponsors and marshals,” said Ian Burks. “Thank you to each and every one of them – as well as everyone who took part or supported friends and family. Please come back again next year!”

The YMCA Fun Run in 2024 will take place on Sunday 5 May.